Phoenix Suns minimum free agency target: Wings

It’s time to get active at yard sales. Review the offer bucket. Go thrift.

The Phoenix Suns enter free agency Friday afternoon with the veteran minimum at their disposal. In order for them to land rotation-caliber players, those names need to come at a discount.

There are reasons to believe this will happen.

Phoenix has four spots in the rotation on the current roster set: Deandre Ayton, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. It could offer a chance for not only legitimate playing time, but to compete for a starting position.

On top of that, the Suns have re-established themselves in the last three years as one of the league’s marquee franchises with a new practice facility in an area people want to live. That would be on a struggling team that has an excellent chance to win a championship with two superstars known for how easy they are to play alongside.

Realistically, it’s hard to be, er, realistic about free agency, given the guesswork that has to be done on who will be available at what price points. Aim too low and every Suns fan reading this will melt into a puddle of despair. Aim too high and any Suns fan reading this will be expecting too much, sending in time off for the parade 11 months in advance.

We land somewhere in the middle, listing both the players who will almost certainly go for the veteran’s minimum and targets who could come to Phoenix in pursuit of a title, while zeroing in on their own value ahead of next summer.

After covering guards, it’s time to look at the wing, where Phoenix has reportedly already taken a look at journeymen and former lottery picks Jabari Parker and Stanley Johnson.

‘Please come and get a discount to win and play a lot*’ level

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I understand a hesitation from teams considering a financial commitment to Dillon Brooks. He must get it from someone. But Phoenix wouldn’t be one. If it went south, it might just cut him. Move on. Quickly.

I don’t understand the lack of appreciation for what Brooks does well. He made Second Team All-Defense and can score, averaging 14.5 points per game during his career. His shot selection is pretty much atrocious, and needs serious refinement on a veteran-laden roster that would check him. Even with his shortcomings and erratic style of play, Phoenix wouldn’t find a better fit to be the wing that Beal and Durant are sandwiched in, given how Brooks defends and contributes elsewhere.

Brooks will have the choice between a payday from a mid-major franchise or taking a gap year at a contender, proving he’s a winning player and not a distraction before he gets the bag the following offseason. The problem for the Suns is that even if they were hypothetically interested in him, there are playoff teams that could offer Brooks the taxpayers’ mid-level exception, twice the minimum. But again, guys like Brooks won’t find a better situation for a mix of playing time and title aspirations. All in all, it would be quite a stretch for anyone to bet on themselves.

A key name to watch with guaranteed money deadlines is Gary Harris, that $13 million became concrete on Friday if the Orlando Magic don’t waive him. Harris, still only 28 years old, is just getting healthy. He’s an effective 3-and-D wing that disappeared in Orlando after the Aaron Gordon trade. Competitors will blow up the phone of Harris’ agent if he becomes available.

Joe English wouldn’t provide nearly as much defensively as those two, but he’s almost perfect for the type of offensive players Phoenix needs to surround its Big 3 with. Clever tackles that can keep a possession alive and also knock down open shots. Ingles is still at this stage of his career, and he can initiate offense as well.

‘Start in your role so we get you PAID next summer’ level

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To look at that type of role again with another lefty, it’s strange Yuta Watanabe Haven’t stuck anywhere yet. He’s been through Memphis, Toronto and Brooklyn as a willing defender with a now-refined 3-point shot that’s becoming elite. It’s always a bit alarming when a player doesn’t stick for whatever reason, but the 28-year-old has had to fight for playing time through very crowded rosters. A lot of space in Phoenix.

Another guy to sign, “Hey, what’s up with you, buddy?” is Josh Richardson. Once a prized second-round pick of the Miami Heat, he has played for five teams in the last four seasons. Willie Green played him quite a bit when the New Orleans Pelicans’ season was on the line, a solid indicator that he’s still providing something useful. There is defense, playmaking and shooting in his arsenal. It’s just a matter of how much it has now, and that should interest teams like the Suns.

Jalen McDaniels is one of the more intriguing free agents this year, as he is a tall (6-foot-9) and long wing coming off his rookie contract defending. It was an interesting jump from the bottom-feeding Hornets to the contending 76ers in a midseason move. He fell out of the rotation in the postseason after initially becoming an important cog for Philly. He has the athletic tools to defend stars, something he often did for the 76ers, and plays with good activity. If the Suns look elsewhere instead of keeping Torrey Craig and/or Josh Okogie, McDaniels is a good outcome to take at a discount.

‘One of you probably still has it’ level

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Any four of these guys could easily go in the above group, given the rightful value placed on wings.

Danny Green tore his ACL and LCL in the 2022 postseason, so it may or may not be fair to write off the 36-year-old just yet after the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t use him much last year. He was one of the better 3-and-D linemen of the 2010s. At the very least, he’s a great addition to a dressing room worth a flyer to see if he has more left than that.

Will Barton is similarly revered for the teammate he is and also the on-ball contributions a glue guy makes. He’s at a strange crossroads after an eight-year tenure in Denver ended and small stops in Washington and Toronto didn’t produce much hype.

There was a time when Justice Winslow was a fascinating rising point forward who was also a menacing, versatile defender. It’s still some time after he played well in Portland, but he just can’t avoid injuries. Justin Holiday the case was more of an under-the-radar wing with legitimate 3-and-D skills. He has now also been on nine teams.

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